Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Hob's Bargain by Patricia Briggs

★★★★✩
Aren’s visions have flourished in the wake of death and destruction. Imprisoned magic and mythical creatures have broken free from their earthly bonds. Aren is determined to help her village survive their new awakening world even as they shun the abilities that lend her strength.

The Hob’s Bargain is a stand alone novel from Patricia Briggs’ early fantasy work. I loved the world building in the story. The magic system and all the different creatures were so interesting and fun to read about. It made me wish the book was part of a series so I could stay in the world longer.

I often see this story compared to Beauty and The Beast. I felt the romance subplot was mild and sweet. It doesn’t distract much from the story and is a bit understated.

The story itself is more exploratory with interesting settings and events keeping the momentum going. I was so into the world building and getting to know the characters that I didn’t mind the slower pace. The fight scenes would recapture my attention and I loved the different elements incorporated. 

I had a lot of fun reading The Hob’s Bargain. There was so much packed into the story that it left me wanting to read more.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

★★✩✩
The 5 Second Rule presents the simple concept of taking immediate action to work towards a goal before the brain can talk itself out of it. The book shares testimonials of inspired people who have used the momentum from practicing the technique to build confidence and change their lives.

I picked up the book after watching an interview with the author. The interview and her related talks on the topic are great. The concept is very simple so I was curious how it would be expanded to cover the length of a book.

The book is filled with short testimonials across different social media outlets on how they have been inspired to change their lives. It gets repetitive after a while. I quickly grew tired of reading the hashtag name over and over. It made it seem like an extended ad or blog post.

I liked how the author addressed how the technique could be used within different areas of life such as changing thought patterns, creating habits or improving relationships. I was glad to see how the technique was applied and adapted. I was hoping to read more about the science behind it but felt the book did very little to deliver on that end.

After finishing the book I would strongly recommend just listening to interviews or talks the author has given. The 5 Second Rule is a great concept and motivator. However I felt the book itself did very little to expand upon the core messages and information already shared within her talks.     

Monday, June 11, 2018

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

★★★★✩
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is an insightful memoir from Haruki Murakami that weaves together his journey as a writer, runner and triathlete.

I first tried to read this when I initially started jogging and wasn’t really able to get into it. It’s been a few months since then and I found that picking it up now was a whole different experience.

I was able to better relate to his experience of starting to run which made me a bit more invested in finishing the book. Reading his journey of challenging himself further to complete marathons, an ultra-marathon and triathlons was inspiring.

It was also fun to learn more about his life and journey as a writer. Getting to know more about him as a person made it easier to see him reflected within his other written works. It added more depth to certain details and made me feel closer as a reader.

I loved how detailed the descriptions were. Reading about all the different places he traveled to made each memory seem even more vivid. His reflections on his training and struggles made me more appreciative of the physical challenges encountered by competitors of marathons, ultra-marathons and triathlons.

The memoir itself is a pretty quick read but covers quite a good amount of time. I enjoyed the way it was composed. Some passages are like journal entries and followed up by more present recollections. I really enjoyed this duality. It made his thoughts on aging and maintaining his lifestyle more impactful and poetic.

Friday, June 8, 2018

It’s Called A Breakup Because It’s Broken By Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt

★★★
It’s Called A Breakup Because It’s Broken is a collection of humorous anecdotes and advice on dealing with the aftermath of a breakup.

This is one of those books that I often heard quoted but never actually read. I decided to listen to the audio version. Both authors narrated the book and it was great to hear their different viewpoints and experiences.

I felt the narration lent the audio version the friendly confidant persona it was trying to capture. There are a few activities and recipes that get a bit lost in the audio version but I didn’t think it took away from the experience.  

The advice is frank and honest while keeping a positive upbeat tone. Though the book is geared toward women, the advice and information was broad enough for either gender to benefit from.

I liked that it took into consideration the many scenarios of why a relationship was ending in addition to the different stages during and after a break up. I was pleasantly surprised by how the book addressed issues and other people affected by the breakup as well. My favorite parts of the book were the letters from readers asking for advice.

Overall, I thought the book was amusing and informative. It does a good job of reframing the situation while empowering the reader to take action on moving forward after their breakup.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Minimal Lifestyle by Photis D. Mata

★★★
Minimal Lifestyle is a collection of research, ideas, and experiences Photis D. Mata has encountered while incorporating his minimalist philosophy into his life.

Minimal Lifestyle is a quick read. It took me a little under an hour to finish. It reads like an extended blog post. I found out later the author has a blog with the same name as the book.

The writing is clear and has a personable voice. The book is nicely organized and has a good flow as it transitions to the different topics and ideas. Some of the information may be familiar if you’ve already read blogs or books on the subject of minimalism.   

I enjoyed the parts where the author shared his personal experiences and thoughts. It was also nice to read the short experiences of other people who adapted the minimal lifestyle.

Minimal Lifestyle is a quick read with a nice collection of information on the benefits of a minimalism.

[Disclaimer: I won a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads]   

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Healing With Kiryo by Tadashi Kanzawa

★★★
Tadashi Kanzawa rose to international fame with his television demonstrations of ki mastery. He used his abilities on different types of animals to guide them into a relaxed peaceful state. In his book Healing With Kiryo he reviews these experiences with added insight. Further expanding on how ki energy can be practiced by anyone and used for healing.

I was excited when I came across this book. It’s been a few years since I first saw videos of Tadashi Kanzawa but they definitely left a lasting impression. I highly recommend looking them up on youtube if you haven’t seen them already.

Healing With Kiryo is a pretty insightful book. I really enjoyed the chapters where he went over his different television appearances, teachings and experiences healing. He comes across as humble and down to earth with the belief that anyone can develop and use ki energy.

The book dedicates a lot of time to legitimize and explain ki energy in a biological context. If you’re new to the subject of energy healing this book may be a good introduction. The information he shares is often related to the method developed from teaching his students.

The book includes a lot of simple charts and visuals. It also includes beginner ki development exercises that can be done alone, in pairs, or in groups. I liked that he paid extra attention to explaining the type of sensations that might be experienced.

I found the information a bit overwhelming at times. I was familiar with a lot of the ideas but there was a lot of new vocabulary that made it a bit difficult to adjust to. The author thoroughly explains concepts as simply and concise as possible. I thought he did a good job of explaining ideas that are based on sensations that often have to be experienced first hand to understand.

Healing With Kiryo is a great introduction to ki development and practice.

[Disclaimer: I won a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads]    

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Benefit Of The Doubt by Neal Griffin

★★★★★
Ben Sawyer is a police officer that has returned to his small hometown disgraced and alienated after his hot temper landed him on headlines. He quickly finds himself part of the top story again when his wife is accused of murder. Desperate to find the truth he follows every possible angle only to find his situation is just a small part of an even bigger web of conspiracies and lies. Benefit Of The Doubt is the first book in The Newberg Mystery Series.

I loved reading this book! The author is definitely among my favorites now. I can’t wait to read more in the series.

The story has a thorough knowledge in the culture of law enforcement and police procedures. I liked how the story emphasized them and made it pivotal to the plot.

The writing is fluid and all the details made it so immersive. I looked forward to reading it each day but was also nervous to read on at the same time.

The characters were so vivid and distinct. I loved how each point of view was charged with emotion. I enjoyed how flawed the characters were and I liked how each one was able to get their perspective across.

Some of the scenes were violent and brutal. They were so raw and emotional it was often unnerving to feel so intimate with the point of view.

I enjoyed how ethics and justice were addressed in the story and through the characters. There was no clear right or wrong with all the characters making questionable decisions and actions

Benefit Of The Doubt was a great mystery read and I look forward to reading the other books in the series.

Related Posts:
A Voice From The Field (Newberg Mystery, #2) by Neal Griffin

Friday, April 20, 2018

A Mind To Kill by John Nicholl

★★★
Rebecca will never forgive the man that destroyed her family and stole her childhood innocence. Each sexual predator she kills is her gift to society. DI Gravel is called back from holiday when body parts are found washed ashore. Getting back on a case is just what he needs to recover from everything that happened on his last high profile case. A Mind To Kill is the second book in the DI Gravel series.

A Mind To Kill was an okay read. It took me a while to get into the story. The omniscient writing and dense lengthy dialogue was often overwhelming. I initially wasn’t sure which characters to focus on or care for.

Pacing was slow in the beginning. The scenes probably would have felt more impactful if I read the first book though. I felt the book had a good stand alone quality despite being the second in the series.

The story focused a lot on police procedures. I enjoyed the pace and organization it lent the story. This was my first exposure to the UK police structure so it was fun to see the added cultural details.

The main characters grew on me gradually. Enough for me to consider reading other books in the series. They were all flawed but I couldn't help but root for them at different points throughout the story.

The story tackled some tough issues with unflinching honesty. The kill scenes were pretty brutal and gave the killer’s perspective a grisly quality that made it stand out.

Tension was a bit odd since both the killer and detective viewpoints were given time and focus. The final confrontation felt abrupt and premature. I really wanted to see more of the pursuit and evasion between the two sides. However, I enjoyed the ending and final impression of the story.

A Mind To Kill is an interesting revenge story with a questionable vigilante.

[Disclaimer: I won a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads.]

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Voice From The Field by Neal Griffin

★★★★★
Tia Suarez is desperate to get back in the field. Scrutiny from her coworkers and her own mounting doubts makes staying on the sidelines unbearable. Tia’s first assignment back was suppose to be a gradual reentry but she quickly finds herself in a perilous position with a kidnapped victim slipping through her grasp. When her case is not only dropped but ignored she must question not only herself but those around her. A Voice From The Field is the second book in The Newberg Mystery Series.

I picked this book up on a whim and was not prepared for everything it delivered. A Voice From The Field had so many story elements I love to come across when reading. It had me excitedly looking up what else the author has written.

This is the second book in The Newberg Mystery Series. I read this book first and felt it was a decent stand alone book. The background details made me very curious about the first book and I plan to read it soon. There was also a fondness for established characters that I think returning readers will enjoy.

The story incorporates mature subject matter. Sex trafficking and exploitation play a big role in the story. The scenes are not gratuitous or overly graphic but I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone easily offended.

There was so much about the story that I enjoyed. The writing had a great flow. The characterization and police procedural details gave the story an immersive quality.

I loved how flawed the characters were. It made the ethical themes seem more authentic and dynamic.

There were so many twists to the story. I often found myself nervously looking forward to reading the book each day.

A Voice From The Field was a great read and I look forward to reading other books in the series.

Related Posts: 
Benefit Of The Doubt (Newberg Mystery, #1) by Neal Griffin

Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Prisoner Of Hell Gate by Dana I. Wolff

★★
Karalee and her friends cruise New York’s east river enjoying the last few days of summer. Their daring adventurous spirit attracts them to North Brother Island. A place with a dark haunting history that Karalee knows all too well about. As they explore what remains of the abandoned hospital they soon learn that many deadly secrets still remain.

I was disappointed reading The Prisoner of Hell Gate. The cover and summary made me think it was going to be a book I would love.

The prose was awkward with lots of unnecessary exposition. Pacing was slow and I kept reading hoping the story would pick up eventually.

The story focused a lot on the location and historical events. You could definitely feel the author’s enthusiasm in retelling history. However the way it was delivered was often just large info dumps.

Characterization was poor, unmemorable and felt a bit forced at times. A few of the friends I couldn’t even tell apart. It gave them a two dimensional quality that had me comparing them to stereotypical horror fodder.

I felt like the story didn’t really pick up until the very end. The last few chapters were fast paced and intense. There were a few scenes I loved and they delivered the horror I was waiting for.

The ending was so abrupt it literally made me laugh. I would call it lazy but at that point I was just glad to be finished with the book.

The story had a lot of potential. It made me wish it was reworked more to make it even better. There were so many moments I wish were expanded upon or smoothed out.

The Prisoner of Hell Gate was an okay read. There were parts of it I thought were interesting. I finished reading the book without abandoning it. However, it just left me wanting more from it.